Gareth Morgan Announces Winner of $20k Flag Competition

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The winner of the Morgan Foundation’s $20,000 flag competition is “Wā kāinga / Home”, designed by Auckland based Studio Alexander.

Economist and philanthropist Gareth Morgan set up the competition because he had strong views on what the flag should represent but he couldn’t draw one himself. In particular he wanted to see more flag designs that honoured the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi – two partners agreeing to share this land and look after each other.

Morgan felt the government competition wasn’t delivering on this respect because the design brief wasn’t clear. So he created his own design brief and threw in some prize money to flush out some genuine designers. This appears to have worked – Morgan’s competition attracted just under 1,000 entries and as a result the diversity of entries in the government process has also improved.

To judge the winner Morgan enlisted the help of a team of designers Mark Pennington, (head designer Formway), Catherine Griffiths (designer and typographer) and Desna Whaanga-Schollum (Nga Aho co-chair). The judges focussed on the flag design, while Morgan was more interested in the story behind the flag. Wā kāinga / Home was the one design they could agree told a strong story and adhered to the principles of good flag design.

Studio Alexander chief Grant Alexander said they entered because “our imagination was captured by the Morgan Foundation’s professional approach. A good brief, design professionals judging and an appropriate financial reward.”

The winning design brings the different parts of New Zealand society together, similar to the South African flag. The three coloured triangles symbolize Maori (red) who invited their Treaty partners to share the land, the heritage of British settlers (blue), and our modern multicultural society (black). These three influences are brought together by the white space, which is also reminiscent of the Maihi (the diagonal bargeboards) on the front of a Maori meeting house.

Morgan is adamant that the flag should change, and claims that the old one is past its used by date. “It is a defaced British naval ensign, an artifact of a colonial era and doesn’t reflect modern Aotearoa New Zealand. It is an insult to Maoridom, and all other immigrants for that matter.” He hopes that the Flag Consideration Panel will look closely at the results of this competition.

More detail on the winning entry and the story behind the flag is here.

More detail on Gareth’s views on the winner and other worthy entries is here.

More detail on the deliberations of the judging panel is here.